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Taking short breaks from technology can improve your life
Improve mental well-being by setting limits on the technology in your life

Date published: 11/8/2009

WOULDN'T IT be fun to take a 19th-century scientist on a tour of 21st-century America? Let's take William Barton Rogers, for example, since he was educated right here in Virginia. Born in 1804, he was the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From a technological perspective, we can only imagine how fascinating it would be to show him all the amazing "stuff" his efforts helped to create. He might be stunned to see some of our gadgets--small enough to fit in a pocket but big enough to deliver music, movies, information and contact with practically anyone in the world.

No doubt he would be amazed to know that a simple columnist like me could research, write and forward a copy of this column to my editor without even getting out of my pajamas--much less my house!

But if he stayed for a month, I'm afraid professor Rogers might become increasingly disappointed in some of the detrimental effects modern technology has on our mental well-being.

He'd see kids falling prey to cyber-bullies or, worse, sexual predators. He might be hard-pressed to find a family dinner that didn't involve a telephone ringing, a television blaring or a little under-the-table texting.

He'd learn we had to create a law to prevent drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle. "Are you all nuts?" he'd ask.

I think he would be disappointed, as I am, to see so many brilliant minds numbed out by, at best, mindless entertainment and at worst, violent or sexually explicit music, videos, movies, games and television.


So what can we do about these technological problems when our children understand how to operate the "parental controls" better than we do?

Maybe we need reminding that we are in charge of our technology, rather than the other way around. We don't have to turn on the television just because it is in the room. We don't have to answer the phone just because it is ringing.

We need to set boundaries on technology, and we need to teach our children to do the same.

Here are a few suggestions I like:

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Dr. Delise Dickard, a licensed professional counselor, is the director of Riverside Counseling in Fredericksburg.